It is pretty undeniable that Christopher Nolan’s grim and gritty take on Batman, a very apt portrayal given the character’s nature and the setting of Gotham, pretty much revolutionised superhero movies. In that respect, these movies have done as much to create the mass appeal of such movies as Marvel’s own movies have done in the last decade. But, there have been ups and downs as well, because these movies aren’t perfect, despite the illusion otherwise.
The primary issue I had with the movie was that it magnified the failings of The Dark Knight without offering anything to counter that extreme. It basically just failed hard, as far as I am concerned. For me, it is one of the most disappointing superhero movies I’ve seen to date. It is overly long, self-indulgent, and suffers from a villain who is undone by the story rather than the hero himself. It is a movie that has the purpose of shocking the reader, not entertaining. One can only hope that any future portrayals are better. In the meanwhile, here’s my review of the movie.
Note: The review contains some major spoilers for the movie.
Frustratingly enough, just when the Zero Year arc on Batman is winding down to a close, we get a filler issue with a story that doesn’t begin for almost another two months. I’ve liked most of Zero Year that I’ve read so far, and while some of the things have been dragged on a bit, such as the entire second half of the arc involving the Riddler and Doctor Death, it has definitely been a fun story thus far, and I really, really want to see how it all ends. That said, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this story, and what I ended up getting was packed with a bunch of awesome it turns out.
Batman #28 is a story that sets up Batman: Eternal, which will be a new series that DC is going to launch in April this year, and is meant to be a weekly series, with a rotating cast of 4 writers for the first big arc. As such, the story is set in Gotham’s future, quite a few years from now, and it posits a world where Gotham has suffered some kind of near-apocalyptic event. Perhaps a zombie apocalypse? Hmm, that might be a good story actually! Anyways, this was a fun story with James Tynion IV coming back to co-write with Scott Snyder and this time the art isn’t handled by the series regulars, but by guest artists who I presume will be working on the new series.
The end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Zero Year arc on Batman is just around the corner now. From the very first issue of this arc, they’ve both delivered a fantastic reading experience (minus #25 which was a bit of a downer), and the extended art team has also been on top form. Retelling the origins of as iconic a character as Batman is no easy feat, but I feel that the team has performed admirably thus far. With Batman #27, out yesterday, we are in the final arc of this chapter, and the dominoes are all beginning to fall together finally.
In the last couple issues, we’ve seen a ton of character exploration while the plot continues to progress forwards. The overall arc took a bit of a detour with introducing a new villain in Batman #25 and while we have yet to see much of him, or the Riddler for that matter, the story has been good. Seeing a young Batman’s violent interactions with the Gotham City Police Department, and Gordon in particular, has definitely been a big highlight, and this issue is all about that.
DC launched its latest Justice League to some fanfare last month, debuting a look at the future a thousand years from now, when Mankind has stepped out into space, made contact with innumerable alien races, and formed a giant galaxy-spanning Commonwealth government. But, there are always dangers, and hence the organisation known as Cadmus has brought back the original Justice League (sans Cyborg) via cloning to deal with the threat of the Five. The first issue was was a bit poor in some respects, notably the art, but was decent overall, so I was quite cautious about picking up the second issue.
You know what though, I think this is a series that I can stick with, despite the flaws. Its really interesting to read about a Justice League team that is out of whack in a lot of different ways and is different while still being somewhat same. In the second issue, the writers pit the League of the future against their first actual threat and show how things don’t go exactly to plan. And the characters’ interactions with each other remain at the heart of the story. The art is a little better than the last time, but not by much however.
This month, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s big-arc on Batman continues with the sixth installment of the Zero Year plotline that last month extended to several other titles as well and gave us a crossection of what was happening in the city at this time from the perspective of the other heroes, many of whom were basically just beginning to reinvent themselves as vigilantes out for justice on the streets, for one reason or another. Last month’s issues of Batman was actually quite disappointing for me, in many respects, and I was somewhat apprehensive about this issue.
I needn’t have been though, because Scott and Greg come back into this week’s release with a bang. I’m not really sure what last month’s issue was, just a blip on the radar perhaps, but I’m happy to say that this one is a true Scott/Greg issue, what they’ve been giving us since the New 52 launched. This issue was a damn fun read, despite from all the serious stuff that happened here, and all the big revelations (of sorts) that were to be had. This is the kind of stories that I want these two guys to tell, because they are good at this kind of stuff.
Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. One of the most annoying young characters I’ve read in comics to date. I came across him for the first time in Scott Snyder’s Batman #1 and since then I’ve seen him around in various books, especially Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Robin Volume 1, where he was extremely irritating and angsty like hell. Grant Morrison killed off the character earlier this year, ending a long arc that began when he first introduced him a few years back and in the wake of that… tragedy, DC first announced and then began publishing this “what if?” mini-series that takes a look at what and who Damian could have been if he had survived.
I read the first issue last month and I was extremely disappointed with it. The story was quite weak and the art followed suit. I’ve read some of Andy Kubert’s writing before, and he’s quite an unimpressive writer, fairly mediocre from my experience. This issue, and the previous one, both show that Kubert’s strengths are definitely not in telling a story with words, or even basic plotting, because both issues are seriously out of whack with what’s happening in the New 52, and even in terms of internal consistency.
Note: This contains some major spoilers about the issue.
Managed to read a handful of more comics this week, since there were a lot of titles released that I was really interested in, and a couple from previous weeks that I hadn’t been able to get around to at the time. As usual, it was all a mixed reading experience, with some really good comics mixed in with some bad ones and a few that straddle the fence between the two extremes. More positive ones than negative ones.
No graphic novels this week sadly, since this week was a real slog in reading, again, and I was struggling for time in general with everything else too. Perhaps this coming week can be different!
Batman: Zero Year has been one of the best mini-events in comics that I’ve read to date. In the space of the first four issues, #21-24, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo gave us a fantastic look at the early years of Gotham as it would come to be under Batman’s vigilantism and we saw the fantastic origin of the titular character. With superb art comes a superb story and till now, nothing has been the least bit disappointing, apart from some really minor stuff.
Which is why, reading this brand-new issue, I was confused as to what was happening. With the last issue, Snyder/Capullo ended their first arc and concluded the Red Hood Gang story, rather dramatically I might add, and they set up the Riddler to be the new big villain. With the new issue however, it is as if we are in an interlude, which doesn’t quite jive with the way that everything is two minutes to midnight in the story, with the worst storm in Gotham’s history approaching and the city entirely without power.
So apparently, we are definitely getting a new Batman in about two-years’ time, and the role will be played by actor/producer/director Ben Affleck. For the uninitiated, we saw Christopher Nolan wrap-up his Batman movie trilogy last year with the Christian Bale-starrer The Dark Knight Rises and Ben Affleck has done comic book roles before in Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil.
This is certainly an interesting time for DC/WB since they just recently launched their own cinematic universe with this summer’s hit Man of Steel and we know that there are going to be three more movies in this “phase 1” at the least: Batman vs Superman (2015), The Flash (2016), and Justice League (2017). I blogged a while back about how DC could start building its own cinematic universe to counter what Disney/Marvel have been doing with an incredibly successful line of Marvel movies.
This “plan” of mine, called Justice League: Strange Union, called on WB studios to make movies with characters that we haven’t yet seen in a live action adaptation for the cinemas and to keep any characters they wanted to reboot for the eventual Justice League film where Martian Manhunter could be added in as a new character for people to get to know.
As things stand though, based on the information that came out of San Diego Comic-Con last month and from all Hollywood sources last night, my plan is pretty much what I knew it would be: a mere hopeful fantasy.
Its absolutely no surprise that following the immense success of Marvel Studios’ various superhero movies, DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers have announced their own plans for movies based on DC’s famous characters. Over the last eight years we’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, and Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern. There has been next to no continuity between these films, unlike the Marvel films which have all been connected through various agents of S.H.I.E.D and their infamous Director, Nick Fury. In fact, such interconnectivity has been one of the selling points of Marvel’s films.
You might ask, why is that? What makes the Marvel movies so different from the DC films?
Its straightforward. Marvel Studios stepped into the business with a clear direction of what they wanted to do. I don’t know exactly if it was the intention or not, but all of their films, especially from Iron Man 2 and out, have been building up towards a specific point, The Avengers. One by one, they released movies that would all tie-in together to culminate in the premier Marvel superhero team-up, thereby bringing their “Phase 1” to fruition.
And they’ve succeeded enormously. Which is where DC and WB step in because they want to mirror the success with their own properties. But its not easy to do that. All attempts so far have pretty much tanked. There just isn’t the same vision, and the same ability to face challenges at WB, from what we can see. Their various Wonder Woman projects seem to keep getting stalled for one reason or another. There are talks of a Green Lantern and Batman reboot already, and we are just about to have a new Superman movie that is another reboot after Singer’s Superman Returns from 2006.
A few weeks ago I was discussing this with fellow book blogger and friend, Nick Sharps, and I outlined the basics of what DC and WB should do to make sure that they are able to reproduce Marvel’s success.
It all ends up being about the vision.
As I mentioned in latest update from 29th November, I’m doing a review a day for December, as part of an Advent Reviews Calendar for the month to get into the festivities. I’m kicking off the series with this review of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s excellent 2012 Annual for their New 52: Batman run, which is ongoing.